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Algerian prosecutors seek 20-year sentence for Bouteflika's brother

Said Bouteflika faces allegations of conspiring against state and undermining army's authority
As protests mounted against brother, Said Bouteflika allegedly discussed calling state of emergency (AFP)

A 20 year prison sentence is being sought by Algerian prosecutors for the brother of the country's former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Said Bouteflika, seen by many as the power behind the Algerian presidency after his brother suffered a stroke in 2013, was in court on Monday along with three senior officials facing allegations of conspiring against the state and undermining the army's authority.

Algeria's former defence minister Khaled Nezzar alleged that as protests mounted against his brother, Said Bouteflika met with the other defendants to discuss getting rid of army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah and calling a state of emergency, the AFP reported.

On Tuesday, prosecutors at the military court in Blida, south of the capital Algiers, requested 20 year sentences for all the defendants, the maximum, according to the news agency.

Bouteflika's younger sibling was arrested in May, even as the 82-year-old former leader remains free.

The verdict is expected on either Wednesday or Thursday.

The trial comes amid ongoing investigations into government corruption under Bouteflika, who stepped down in April following months of protests against his attempt to run for a fifth term as president.

Even after his resignation, protests continued to call for the removal of officials associated with his era, including the interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah.

Since Bouteflika resigned from office after two decades in power, a slew of ex-government officials who served under him have been detained, including the former justice minister Tayeb Louh, ex-labour minister Mohamed El Ghazi and former public works and transport minister Abdelghani Zaalane.

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New presidential elections have been set for 12 December, though protesters have reignited a call for the election to be cancelled as they want all Bouteflika-era leaders to step down, including Gaid Salah, who has emerged as the country's de facto leader in the aftermath of Bouteflika's fall from power.

The army chief responded to the protests by urging Algerian citizens to come out to vote.

"We urge citizens to mobilize massively to make this vote a starting point for the renewal of institutions," said Gaid Salah, in a statement obtained by Reuters.

"This will allow the election of a new president with full legitimacy that will enable him to meet the aspirations of the people," he added.